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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona overcomes slow start to put Bears in hibernation and secure first conference win at Cal

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Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Wildcats guard Rawle Alkins (1) bodies up against California Golden Bears center Kingsley Okoroh (22) during the first half of the No. 18 University of Arizona Wildcats vs. University of California Golden Bears men’s college basketball game on Dec. 30, 2016, at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

No. 18 Arizona moved to 12-2 (1-0) on the season defeating the California Golden Bears 67-62 in Berkeley, California. Junior center Dusan Ristic led all Arizona scorers with 16 points and four rebounds.

With both Arizona and California coming off of extended holiday breaks, the first half was a game of runs.

The Wildcats struggled to find their shot early, and head coach Sean Miller called a timeout a little over a minute in to the game after the Bears jumped to a quick 4-0 lead. At the first media timeout with 15:35 left in the first half, both teams were 2-14 from the field and had combined for four turnovers.

Arizona had one of their worst shooting halves of the season. The Wildcats went 1-7 from deep and shot 36 percent from the field (12-33).

The Golden Bears found their stride in the middle of the half, and went on a 15-0 run that stretched over six minutes. Arizona went 0-9 during the six-minute stretch, and the Bears held a 13-point lead with 9:30 to play.

Arizona followed the 15-point run with a 9-0 run of their own over the next two minutes, but they were unable to catch the Bears before halftime. The Bears recovered after their own shooting struggles early in the first half and finished 12-30 (40%) in the half.

The Wildcats were able to shake off their holiday rust in the second half and came out firing. Arizona’s guards began to attack the rim, and through the first ten minutes of the second half Arizona was shooting an efficient 54 percent (7-13).

Freshman guard Kobi Simmons scored 10 points in the opening five minutes of the half, and propelled the Wildcats to regain the lead. Simmons used his quickness to blow past California defenders on three straight possessions at one point, and was able to put together his best half as a Wildcat. He finished with 14 points and three assists on 6-14 shooting.

The Bears Ivan Raab was having one of his best games of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but he drew his fourth foul of the night with 10:33 left in the second half. The Wildcats took advantage, and controlled the pace of the game for the rest of the night.

After struggling from the floor all night, freshman Lauri Markkanen hit a deep three-point shot on the left wing with just under five minutes to play giving Arizona a 59-50 lead. Markkanen managed to salvage a tough shooting night and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats did get into foul trouble late in the game when Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Rawle Alkins, and Lauri Markkanen all had four fouls. The Bears were able to get to within four points of Arizona, who had to play through the foul trouble, but the Wildcats were able to fend off the Bears after Alkins finished at the rim for a three-point play with two minutes to go giving Arizona a six-point lead.

The Wildcats finished with four players in double digits, Simmons (14), Markkanen (13), Ristic (16), and freshman Rawle Alkins (10).

Parker Jackson-Cartwright returned to the floor for Arizona following his ankle injury. The junior point guard played nine minutes scoring no points. He had two assists and two rebounds.

Arizona remains in the bay area this weekend and will face the Stanford Cardinal on Sunday at 6 p.m. MST in Palo Alto, California. The game will be aired on Pac-12 networks.


Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter.


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